It’s been real, but it’s time for me to be moving on. I’ve stepped down as editor to pursue other writing opportunities and I’m looking forward to getting back into reporting on, rather than assigning, stories.
Good God, what can I say about 15 years with the same company, the last three of them leading the Valley Advocate?
I took on the role as editor of this 44-year-old alternative weekly newspaper in 2015 with the mission to shake this paper the hell up and bring in a more I-heart-punks approach to reporting on the Valley and its arts and culture scene. In this I think I have succeeded.
I am proud to have brought on new columnists and support the good work of veteran ones who are thoughtful, fun, and knowledgable about a dizzying variety of subjects.
This all-star roster includes Will Meyer and his Western Mass DIY music column, Basemental; Yana Tallon-Hicks with her pleasure-first and ovaries-out feminist approach to sex and relationship advice in The V-Spot; Naila Moreira, who writes Down to Earth, an insightful environmental column that connects global changes with local happenings; Hunter Styles and his deliciously boozy Beerhunter; new (but not really so new) guy Monte Belmonte and his twice-a-month column, Monte Belmonte Wines; Stream Queen Lena Wilson, who always has some tips on what to watch that will expand (or just enthrall) you; mysterious B-movie aficionado Blaise Majkowski; and Jennifer Levesque, our deeply talented art director and woman-in-the-know who writes a twice-a-month column about clubs and concerts, Valley Show Girl. And don’t forget Advocate stalwarts Chris Rohmann, the Valley’s leading voice on theater; and Jack Brown, with his lively weekly takes on movies screening locally.
The best parts of being editor of the Valley Advocate, about being a journalist really, are the people you meet, the places you go, and the moments you experience that you would have never been involved in if it weren’t for having the full-time job of finding out what’s going on around you and telling others about it.
During my time here, I am thankful to have been witness to artistic marvels and soul-piercing music. Social justice activists have turned my world upside down and righted it again. I’ve met legends and homeless people with stories that have changed my life. I’ve eaten my way through all the cheesecake, donuts, clam chowder, chocolate brownies, and smoothies the Valley has to offer, and I’ve shaken the hand of just about every one of the Best of the Valley business owners. I’ve also met, of course, some real pricks who don’t see the value in journalism and giving voice to the voiceless. Sucks to these, folks: the measure of any nation or person is in how they treat those who can do nothing for them.
I’m also enormously pleased to have been a part of launching Sessions, the Valley Advocate’s weekly online video concert series that was the brainchild of former staffers Laura Dintino and Hunter Styles and now continues under the auspices of staff writer and knockout vocalist Chris Goudreau. Sessions is shot in the back office of the Advocate by Northampton Community Television, with audio by Signature Sounds Recording, and each Friday new videos are posted on the Advocate’s website featuring a four-song-or-so set by a local band. There’s usually a bonus interview video, as well.
Promoting local music, sharing the melodious tunes coming out of Western Mass, and getting to meet the dedicated musicians behind the songs have been a privilege. Damn, we rock out here.
I’m going to miss having a forum in print and online to blast hypocrites, liars, and thieves on the regular and it’s been a chill and sweet experience writing one of the first bylined pot culture and news columns in Massachusetts, O, Cannabis.
But I’m leaving the Valley Advocate in good hands and bitchier than when I found it — which also makes me proud. Managing Editor and political newshound Dave Eisenstadter and the unflappable Executive Editor Jeff Good are working together to cover the editor’s role while they search for a replacement. You can get at them at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Stay in touch, firstname.lastname@example.org, and keep the Pioneer Valley weird.